The Greenlee County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a five-year contract with Axon Enterprise to equip the sheriff’s office with body cams and Tasers at a cost of $34,377 annually Tuesday.
Sheriff Tim Sumner noted the annual cost is $12,000 more than it was five years ago.
The supervisors also agreed to use $189,338 in state-provided funds to enter a contract with Mutualink, a “multimedia interoperable communications sharing platform” for public safety agencies.
According to the Mutualink website, the platform can include phones that can turn into walkie-talkies, text messaging and live video feeds from buildings, streets, cruisers and helicopters. It can also give law enforcement electronic access to blueprints, floor plans and photos.
In other news, Public Works Director Tony Hines notified the supervisors that because of the world-wide semiconductor chip shortage, Chevrolet plants may be shutting down and not producing certain 2022 vehicles.
As a result, a number of vehicles the supervisors already agreed to purchase will not be coming anytime soon, Hines said.
The supervisors agreed to wait for Kempton Chevrolet to get the vehicles rather than launch a search for other vehicles elsewhere. They’ll be able to keep their place in line as a result, County Administrator Derek Rapier said.
Also on Tuesday, Sumner asked the supervisors to cancel its contract with GPS TrackIt, which records the location of sheriff’s office vehicles and deputies’ driving habits.
Sumner said the program routinely supplies erroneous information about where his deputies are and he wants the county to purchase software that tracks the location of deputies through their laptop computers, not their cars.
The county currently pays $18,000 annually for GPS TrackIt, but the Live911 program would only cost $6,000 a year if the county signs a contract with Code 3 Technologies by Dec. 31, Sumner said.
Hines agreed GPS TrackIt wasn’t entirely accurate, but said he’d prefer to have Live911 and a program that can monitor deputies’ driving behaviors.
Supervisors Richard Lunt and Ron Campbell said they believe systems that can track speed, hard turns and hard stops influence drivers’ driving habits and are worthy of having. The county uses a contract with a different GPS company than the sheriff’s office.
Sumner said that may be true of individuals, but contended that no one can prove that “collectively.”
“As far as driving behavior and habits of enforcement I fully trust every law enforcement officer that’s trained by AZPOST,” Sumner said.
The sheriff also pointed that until no one ever monitored his or his deputies’ driving behaviors until July when someone put in an Arizona Open Records Request with the county for a trip he took.
As a result of that request, the county released records from GPS TrackIt indicating Sumner sometimes drove 18-25 miles an hour over the speed limit on a business trip to Phoenix June 30 and at one time on the same trip hit 39 miles an hour over the speed limit in Bylas. In media interviews at the time, Sumner pointed out GPS TrackIt often places deputies places they weren’t and even recorded vehicles physically moving while at zero miles per hour. He also contended the documents were requested by someone with a political agenda and the media fell victim to that person’s ploy.
“In 14 years, there has never been a request, even in a huge drug case when we were being scrutinized over our whereabouts prior to that drug stop or in several jury trials right here in the Superior Court where we were being scrutinized about our whereabouts during questioning,” Sumner said. “The system is not being used.”
Sumner stressed that he is not opposed to GPS systems overall.
“GPS is a great tool, great asset. I’m not against that. I’m against inaccurate and erroneous GPS,” he said.
The supervisors voted to postpone their vote until next month and directed staff to establish if Code 3 Technologies will extend their quote beyond the end of the year, if they participate in a state-wide program that gives government entities a break on prices and if the Live911 program is compatible with other county programs.